Please never underestimate anybody with dementia

Torbay Weekly

Sometimes the smallest thing can turn into something huge!

Unfortunately, this is one side of dementia nobody tells you about.

When something happens that would only normally irritate you, when you have dementia it becomes the biggest problem in the world!

Dementia and depression has always walked hand in hand, more so for some than others, and when certain events conspire against you - or so you think - it’s an awful downward spiral that can turn the best of years into the worst - yes, it can feel that bad.

There are so many different sides to this awful disease that it's head spinning at the best of times but, and I am ashamed to say, sometimes, it all gets a little too much, even for me.

It only has to be the slightest thing to set it off, a little bad news, a bad night, a particularly bad night terror - in my case I am sad to say it’s hard to differentiate the bad from the worse night terrors.

When things like this happen, what I call my 'concrete overcoat' slips on to my shoulders and weighs me down so very much.

I start to look at my life in reverse and all that jumps out at me is the negative side of everything such as terminally ill, no cure, the hurt in my loved ones' eyes, the confusion, frustration and a feeling of complete helplessness.

Please always remember that most people with dementia are experts at hiding things from loved ones for fear of upsetting them or making things worse for them.

There are little signs that might help. If you notice loss of appetite, fluid intake, listlessness or long-standing periods of quiet times as I call it, all these things may have nothing to do with dementia itself.

It could be that maybe the person with dementia has overheard a conversation, or had some news which probably they would shrug off, but because this disease magnifies everything a hundredfold, it all seems much worse.

Just because we have dementia doesn’t mean we can't hear or understand all that goes on around us.

After all, the hearing is the last thing to go when you pass away so we have long said be very careful of what you say in front of someone with dementia, they can understand much more than you think.

Please never underestimate anybody with this awful disease.

These are the little things - or big things - to look out for.

I hope this helps a little, and just to finish off a poem called:

When Dark Skies Arrive

When it all becomes too much to bear, And your world is becoming smaller,

When your dreams, ambitions begin to shrink, Instead of getting taller,

When you think all is lost, And have nowhere else to turn,

Please think back to what you have done, With so much more to learn.

The road we walk is so very long, Right from start to finish,

But never let your hopes and dreams, To shrink or to diminish,

If Hope and dreams are all we have, To help us on our way,

Then embrace both these things, Whilst living for today!

And so my friend, remember this, When your coat comes to call,

It might be made of concrete, But you can still stand tall,

Stretch your arms, take a big deep breath,

You will begin to feel the cracks,

And when you break free of your concrete coat, You can once again relax.